Remembering the legend of advertising who transformed zillions of people swear by his name and his ideas till date.
By Neha Saraiya
By this time, everyone has read, heard, seen or attended ‘June 23rd’ or ‘Red Letter Day’ that marked the centennial of father of advertising, David Ogilvy’s birth. Be it Ogilvy’s office in Mumbai decked up in Red including décor, costumes, refreshments and cake or the celestial gala held at Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity at Le Grand Hotel, triggered with Ogilvian’s participation in creating a video as an ode to the man himself along with message being spread on Twitter through a giant David Ogilvy mosaic.
The celebrations may have been different but the cause was same- to remember what ‘The David Ogilvy’ taught us exactly 64 years, earlier. The man, who knew nothing about marketing and yet started off his agency with zero clients, and transformed zillions of people swear by his name and his ideas till date.
Well, this is what all great men do! They descend on this earth to enlighten and guide us with their innate wisdom that later on becomes the guiding principles for many ages to come. And that’s unerringly what he did!
But shifting the focus a wee bit on me, I have to admit that from the time, I poked my nose in writing stories covering advertising and Marketing, DO (David Ogilvy) has been my, subject for what I call as "faire la folie" (The small Madness). From flipping the pages of the Bible- ‘Ogilvy on Advertising’ (before the maiden intro of an article) to referring to his quotes in brainstorming sessions, for that extra show-off, I have done it all!
But one campaign of DO has been my all time favorite. His work on ‘Hathaway Shirt Company’ wherein the simple idea of an eye-patch surpassed all limits- It not only sold off the entire stock of the company but made people to recognize the shirt not with the brand’s name but with the photograph of “Hathaway Man” and his eye patch. No wonder’s it ran for good 25 years and slogged place for itself in crème-la-crème magazines like Fortune, Forbes et al.
And not to forget the Schweppes campaign. The beard and the Brit’s accent worked so much so, that the company shelved off over 30 million bottles a year with the word “Schweppervescence” used widely as a metaphor for the tonic water’s bubbles.
The magic in his work flowed from the fact that he strongly believed that the greatest ideas are often the simplest ones. And this is very strongly mirrored in his work. Be it an unforced tag line for American Express, “Don’t Leave Home Without It” or a non-compliated headline for a classic Rolls-Royce, “At 60 Miles An Hour The Loudest Noise In This New Rolls-Royce Comes From The Electric Clock.” He just maintained minimalism and candor in all his messages. Something that is fast evaporating these days. (That’s a different debate all-together, though!)
I may have had not the chance to meet the legend like the Big Daddies of advertising (Piyush Pandey and Mohan Menon) and hence share off tell-tales of the precious moments spent with him, (as while DO was deploying his unwavering wisdom to people my mother was busy changing my diapers at that time!), but still his simple ideas and notions rule my mind. (Like many others!)
And it is in the name of this love only, that I swear to God (and to me as well!) that I shall, will, would keep going back to him and profess, his golden teaching at every discussion, article, possible for at least next 100 more years to come….
Some of my favourite quotations of DO:
“Never write an advertisement which you wouldn't want your family to read. You wouldn't tell lies to your own wife. Don't tell them to mine.”
“I have a theory that the best ads come from personal experience. Some of the good ones I have done have really come out of the real experience of my life, and somehow this has come over as true and valid and persuasive.”
“First, make yourself a reputation for being a creative genius. Second, surround yourself with partners who are better than you are. Third, leave them to go get on with it.”
“If you ever have the good fortune to create a great advertising campaign, you will soon see another agency steal it. This is irritating, but don't let it worry you; nobody has ever built a brand by imitating somebody else's advertising.”
“It strikes me as bad manners for a magazine to accept one of my advertisements and then attack it editorially - like inviting a man to dinner then spitting in his eye.”
“Ninety-nine percent of advertising doesn't sell much of anything.”
“The advertisers who believe in the selling power of jingles have never had to sell anything.”
“Don’t be a copy cat.”